Technology and open data are making city planning smarter and more collaborative, and MPC is leading the way!

Last Thursday, April 19, MPC hosted a day-long symposium of the Urban Systems Collaborative, bringing together a dynamic and inter-disciplinary group of urban planners, software designers, developers, architects, and community leaders to explore how advances in information technology and the explosion of open data can improve the planning, design, development, governance and operation of cities.

Where We Stand

While there are multiple tech-savvy civic organizations in Chicagoland, the great minds at IBM approached MPC as the ideal host for the second-ever gathering of the Urban Systems Collaborative. One of MPC’s skills is connecting stakeholders and potential partners who might not immediately recognize their mutual interest. We are a convenor, connecting people and issues. Technology innovation is relevant to our work – particularly Placemaking, transportation demand management, and our own communications strategy.

Park playground
The winning Placemaking app, Mi Parque, lets residents of Chicago's Little Village neighborhood collaborate and share ideas about a new park. Photo: Stefanie Seskin (flickr)

Last week’s dialogue stoked a spark that began at MPC last year, with the Placemaking apps contest we sponsored through Apps for Metro Chicago. The winning mobile app, Mi Parque, demonstrated how technology can deepen both the impact and engagement people have in planning the future of their communities.

Project Progress Report: Bus Rapid Transit Takes Shape in Chicago

The City of Chicago has begun exploring the implementation of Bus Rapid Transit along three routes, each of which will traverse very different neighborhoods and built environments.
Next Wednesday, May 2, from 5 to 7 p.m., the Chicago Dept. of Transportation (CDOT), Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) and Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd Ward) are hosting a public open house on the Central Loop (East-West) BRT project at the Chicago Architecture Foundation, 224 S. Michigan Ave. CDOT is overseeing the $24.6 million, federally funded route, which includes designated bus-priority lanes on two miles of streets in Chicago’s Central Business District, and would serve Union Station, Ogilvie Transportation Center, the CTA Red and Blue Line subways, Streeterville, and Navy Pier.
CTA and CDOT are already implementing elements of BRT on the South Side along Jeffery Boulevard, with an $11 million investment funded by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). Already a high-ridership bus route, Jeffery will be enhanced between 103rd Street, Stony Island Boulevard, and the Loop, with dedicated lanes, limited stops, and enhanced stations between 67th and 83rd streets, as well as transit signal priority between 73rd and 84th streets.
Finally, with a $1.6 million FTA grant, the City is studying the feasibility of BRT along Western and/or Ashland avenues. MPC’s Aug. 2011 report ranked this route highest, not only because it would fill existing gaps in the city’s transit network, but also because of its high potential to spark economic and community development in nearby neighborhoods. Through the Chicago BRT Task Force – which includes MPC, Active Transportation Alliance, Chicago Architecture Foundation, Civic Consulting Alliance, Urban Land Institute-Chicago, The Chicago Community Trust, and other philanthropic, civic and nonprofit partners – we look forward to continuing to assist the City as they develop a world-class BRT network in Chicago.

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